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The sustainability of civil engineering

By David Muir Wood
The definition of civil engineering is a historical curiosity. Originally so called to distinguish it from military engineering, it was particularly concerned (in the 18th century, for example) with the provision of infrastructure for transport – hence the French emphasis on ponts et chaussées in their organisation of education and professional activity. But there is really no difference in the nature of the engineering performed by civil engineers and military engineers…

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How do you remember 9/11?

By Patricia Aufderheide
Documentary film both creates and depends on memory, and our memories are often composed of other people’s. How do we remember public events? How do you remember 9/11? On this anniversary of 9/11, along with your own memories, you can delve into a treasure trove of international television covering the event.

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Innovating with technology

By Mark Dodgson and David Gann
If you have ever been lucky enough to design and build a home, you would in the past have been confronted by technical drawings that are incomprehensible to anyone but trained architects. Nowadays you can have a computerised model of your house that lets you move around it in virtual reality so that you get a high fidelity sense of the layout and feel of rooms. That’s innovation.

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So what is ‘phone hacking’?

By Professor Ian Walden
Over the past two years there has been much furore over journalists accessing the voicemail of celebrities and other newsworthy people, particularly the scandal involving Milly Dowler. As a result of the subsequent police investigation, ‘Operation Weeting’, some 24 people have since been arrested and the first charges were brought by the Crown Prosecution Service in July 2012 against eight people, including Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson. The leading charge was one of conspiracy “to intercept communications in the course of their transmission, without lawful authority”. But what does ‘phone hacking’ mean and have the CPS got it right?

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How and why do myths arise?

It is trite to say that one’s pet subject is interdisciplinary. These days what subject isn’t? The prostate? But myth really is interdisciplinary. For there is no study of myth as myth, the way, by contrast, there is said to be the study of literature as literature or of religion as religion. Myth is studied by other disciplines, above all by sociology, anthropology, psychology, politics, philosophy, literature, and religious studies.

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A British ante-invasion: “Telstar,” 17 August 1962

Many describe the 1964 arrival of the Beatles in New York as the beginning of the “British Invasion,” but UK rock and pop had begun culturally infiltrating our consciousness much earlier. Indeed, a London instrumental group topped American charts in the fall of 1962 with a recording that celebrated the first telecommunications satellite. Launched from Cape Canaveral on 10 July,

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The Demise of the Toff

By William Doyle
Born to tenants of a country squire in Yorkshire, I knew about what my grandmother called ‘toffs’ at an early age. The squire was a toff. As a child I scarcely realised that the squire and his lifestyle were already relics of a fast-disappearing pattern of society.

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10 questions for Suzzy Roche

Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club. The Bryant Park Reading Room offers free copies of book club selection while supply lasts, compliments of Oxford University Press, and guest speakers lead the group in discussion. On Tuesday 21 August, Suzzy Roche leads a discussion on The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, and will perform it at the end.

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The Oxford Companion to the London 2012 Opening Ceremony

Many questioned how the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games Opening Ceremony was going to make a mark after the spectacular Beijing Olympics only four years earlier. While Beijing presented the Chinese people moving as one body — dancing, marching, and presenting a united front to the world — the British answer was a chaotic and spirited ceremony, shifting from cricket matches to coordinated dance routines, Mr Bean’s comedic dream to a 100-foot Lord Voldemort.

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Did you know that we’re all made of stars?

By Andrew King
What are you made of? You may never have thought about it before, but every atom in your body was once part of a star, even several stars in succession. And almost all the elements that make up your body – carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and so on – would not exist at all without the stars.

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How exactly did Mendeleev discover his periodic table of 1869?

The usual version of how Mendeleev arrived at his discovery goes something like this. While in the process of writing his textbook, ‘The Principles of Chemistry’, Mendeleev completed the book by dealing with only eight of the then known sixty-three elements. He ended the book with the halogens.

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Can ignorance ever be an excuse?

By Katherine Hawley
We have developed quite a taste for chastising the mighty in public. In place of rotten fruit and stocks, we now have Leveson, Chilcot, and the parliamentary select committees which have cross-examined Bob Diamond of Barclays and Nick Buckles of G4S.

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How radioactivity helps scientists uncover the past

By Claudio Tuniz
Neanderthal was once the only human in Europe. By 40,000 years ago, after surviving through several ice ages, his days (or, at least, his millennia) were numbered. The environment of the Pleistocene epoch was slightly radioactive, the same way it is today, but this was not Neanderthal’s problem. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the arrival of a new human

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The continuing life of science fiction

By David Seed
In 1998 Thomas M. Disch boldly declared in The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World that science fiction had become the main kind of fiction which was commenting on contemporary social reality. As a professional writer, we could object that Disch had a vested interest in making this assertion, but virtually every day news items confirm his argument that SF connects with an amazingly broad range of public issues.

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What is the probability that you are dreaming right now?

By Jan Westerhoff
Most people think that even though it is possible that they are dreaming right now, the probability for this is very small, perhaps as small as winning the lottery or being struck by lightning. In fact the probability is quite high. Let’s do the maths.

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